Willow Oaks Country Club Golf Course Updates

Our goal is to keep the membership informed about projects, agronomic practices, and upcoming events on the golf course.


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Spring Aeration

Golf Course Closed March 27-31


February Golf Course Update

Winter Projects, Bunker Maintenance, and Greens Aeration Schedule


Air Movement and Fan Video

I took this video to show the efficacy and performance of our new Turf Breeze portable 50" Fan.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easing into Spring

The long, cold winter of 2013/14 has not quite yielded to spring here in Central Virginia.  Our team has been busy preparing the course for the golf season but mother nature has yet to cooperate.  We are at least 3 weeks behind normal growing conditions.  The fairways are now showing some positive signs of growth after a few warm days but temperatures seem to be headed back down.  All of the bermudagrass has endured a very difficult winter.  We are seeing signs of life but have certainly experienced turf loss in typical high traffic areas on collars.  We also have a few areas that stayed overly wet this winter where we may not have full turf recovery.  Drainage will be installed in these areas and new turf installed to speed recovery.  A few high traffic areas in fairways will need to be sodded as well.  We will wait to pass judgement on these areas.  Northern facing slopes and shaded areas are slow to green up.  We have pulled a few more samples into the shop to heat them up and learn more about the health of the turf.

Currently, the worst eyesores are the collars and the spring dead spot as fairways break dormancy.  The damage around the greens is, as usual, in our highest traffic areas.  We will begin to sod these out on the week of May 5.  The long winter has hurt everyone and even sod farms do not have sod ready until May.  By May 5, we will also have a better understanding of what needs to be replaced.  We are using a new cold tolerant, more aggressive turf in the collars to try and combat this issue.  The leaf texture and playability will be consistent with the TifSport collars already in place.  Please excuse our disturbance during May 5, 6, and 7 as we prepare for and install the sod.  We will quickly transition the sod into a maintained collar height.
You can easily see the damage in this picture to the collar behind #9 green.  This area is shaded and the entrance and exit point for this green from the cart path.  Most of the damage occurs in on/off points and highly traveled areas between the greens and bunkers. 
 As fairways and tees break dormancy, we are seeing signs of Spring Dead Spot.  Spring dead spot is an issue on bermudagrass in this area and is a disease that affects the turf in the late fall.  Dead or weakened spots of turf about the size of basketballs present themselves this time of year.  The fungicide applications that we made last fall as well as our cultural and fertility programs will continue to combat this issue.  Like we stated last fall, we will see smaller patches this year with quicker regrowth.  Moving forward, with multiple years of fungicide applications, the spring dead spot occurrence and damage will become less and less.
You can obviously see the basketball sized spring dead spot.  The encouraging sight is the green grass already growing through.  There are certainly spots on the course without green inside of them but this is a positive sign that our programs are working.  
While the winter has been hard on the bermudagrass, the putting greens have thrived.  The greens are currently healing over nicely from the Graden, Drill and Fill, and core aeration.  This was an aggressive process and the cold temperatures in March, slowed recovery.  The dry, warmer weather as of late has been great for growing in the greens and providing firm, fast putting conditions.  Our team is in our normal routine of rolling, mowing, vertical mowing, topdressing, and managing moisture to provide the desired putting green characteristics.  We have not begun to regulate the growth of the greens as we still need to fully heal over from the drill and fill.
This is a picture of the drill and fill process followed by a 5/8" core aeration.  The aeration holes recovered quickly while we can still see the drill and fill holes.  We have seen great improvement from these aggressive cultural programs.  
The greens aeration program was followed up with a deep vertical mowing with a sand injection.  This process and really the machine itself is a Graden.  The Graden creates a 2mm channel in the green, removing thatch and replacing it with sand.  This will help with surface firmness and water infiltration.  We have quickly healed over from the Graden as well.  
This is a picture taken today of the Clubhouse putting green.  You can see four distinct drill and fill holes in different levels of recovery.  You can also make out the darker green lines running diagonally from the top left to the bottom right of the picture.  These are healed over Graden sand channels.  Warmer weather will help the greens recuperate quickly.
This time of year is an ugly one on the golf course.  Pollen, inchworms, spring dead spot, and winterkill leave us ready for warmer weather and Memorial Day.  We are doing everything to quicken recovery and prepare the golf course.  Sooner or later, the golf course will green up and we can start to provide better and better playing conditions.  Please be mindful that the turf does not operate on a calendar but more on soil and air temperatures.  Thank you for your patience.

Our team has been busy with course improvement projects, Audubon Certification and fan installation.  One of the biggest things that happened were fan installations on 2, 5, 14, and the driving range putting green.  There is a lot that goes into these projects and we have finally gotten the fans mounted and ready to go.   A few big upcoming projects include repairing the entire driving range net and renovating the tree well around the large Willow Oak in the patio.  As always, a big thank you goes out to our team for a very good winter despite the tough conditions.  We look forward to seeing you on the golf course.

Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

This butterfly garden was planted around the restrooms on the golf course.  The flowering dogwoods are a welcome addition to the course.  Many thanks to members of the Audubon Resource advisory group who helped install the plant material including Mary Bliley, Alan Padgett, and Tom Walls.
We have seen a lot of bird activity on the course this year.  The bluebird boxes are beginning to fill up with eggs.  This picture was taken on Monday.  The bluebird box initiative has produced over 75 hatchlings.  Special thanks to Dr. Alan Padgett for organizing and leading a bird walk this past Monday.  The group saw many great birds and the positive impact our course and the Audubon certification process has on the environment.   
The club has committed to improvement through the lease of three new fairway mowers.  These mowers will provide an excellent quality of cut and are equipped with groomers and new reel technology to manicure the fairways.
This is the first mow on the driving range fairway.  Our staff walks the fairway before mowing to remove any rocks, golf balls, and debris. 
You have probably noticed white lines painted on the teeing ground.  We have been adjusting our tees and squaring them up to the golf hole.  All of the tees have now been mowed and readjusted 
Our team has been busy firming up creek banks.  Rip Rap has been added on 3, 4, 18 and the river to stabilize these banks and prevent more erosion.

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